American Institute of Architects opens design and health project

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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is working with the Clinton Global Initiative and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) to examine the relationships between design, urbanism, and public health. The collaboration is part of the AIA’s Decade of Design Commitment to Action, which aims to make positive changes through design in the global urban environment. Alexander d’Hooghe, director of the MIT CAU explained: “We are investigating the scale of urban design, architecture, as well as planning, in relation to health today, whether related to obesity, or to climate change.” More →

Yahoo is not the only firm that doesn’t like flexible working

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Yahoo! Sunnyvale headquarters.  October 28, 2001 (Y! Photo / Brian McGuiness)As news emerged over the weekend from Silicon Valley that Yahoo had introduced a new policy that insisted employees work from the company’s HQ, a survey from O2 in the UK highlighted just how many firms are not as keen on the practice of flexible working as they might claim in theory. The question we need to ask is whether this represents a genuine shift away from the assumption that we are moving towards more agile working practices, or is this just the last knockings of the old guard?

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What gets measured in the workplace, gets managed

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MeasureAre we finally seeing the first signs of the end of the downturn?  Earlier this week the Government announced that UK unemployment had fallen. While I know there have been quibbles about what this all meant, other data from specific market sectors backs up the idea that we may be seeing some tentative causes for hope.  One of the most heartening was last week’s survey from Randstad which reported growing levels of optimism among financial services firms about their prospects and the fact that the majority would be increasing headcount this year.

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Greenbiz publishes latest State of Green Business report

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Green Biz_0000Greenbiz has published its sixth annual State of Green Business report, setting out what it claims are the ten key environmental trends for organisations to look out for in 2013. Many focus on the overlap between pure business goals and corporate social responsibility, for example in terms of managing supply chains to reduce risk, making more efficient use of resources, the impact of new technology and working practices and the role of creating value through a healthy working environment.

Room for improvement in public sector workplace management

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Portcullis HouseLast week technology company Citrix announced that the UK Government could cut its property costs by a third by adopting flexible working policies. It used a Freedom of Information request to discover how much space each public sector employee in the UK is allocated and how much it costs then applied a formula to work out how this would be affected by greater adoption of flexible working. What was interesting was not just the up-front argument you would expect from an ICT provider but also the discovery that the average employee is allocated 1.1 workstations with some enjoying 1.6. More →

Tipping point reached in battle between tablets and PCs

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Surface proThe signs of the final showdown between the personal computer and the tablet are now all around us. It is evident in the launch of new products such as Microsoft’s Surface and the new generation of more powerful iPads which can (nearly) match the performance of Apple’s own laptops. It is also evident in the restructuring of firms like Dell, once the world’s most successful PC maker. The end result will not only be a new shape for the products on which we work but also a new shape for the places in which we work. Our postures will change and so too will the things we need to support us.  More →

Industry collaborates on revised Design Review guidance

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New guidelines aimed at ensuring the consistency and quality of advice offered by design review panels across the UK have been published by the Cabe team at the Design Council in collaboration with the Landscape Institute, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA). Welcoming the launch of the revised guidance; ‘Design Review, Principles and PracticeRIBA President Angela Brady said: “Design review is a hugely valuable tool, which has had a proven track record of improving the quality of schemes.”

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Long awaited plans submitted for Smithfield development

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SmithfieldThe controversial and long-awaited plans for the redevelopment of the derelict sections of Smithfield in London have been submitted by Henederson Global Investors.  While the existing meat market will remain untouched, the £160m plan for the rest of the site includes the refurbishment of the former General Market, Fish Market and Red House Buildings, as well as the original engine house.  Originally built between 1886 and 1883 by the architect of Tower Bridge Horace Jones, the historic site has been the subject of previous proposals including a controversial scheme by architects KPF which was thrown out after a 4 year battle in 2008. More →

Net-Zero buildings top measure of sustainability success

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Net-zero commercial buildings, i.e. those that produce at least as much energy as they consume should be the long-term aim of corporate energy strategies, says a CoreNet Global statement. “Smart and responsible energy policies and practices reduce corporate carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions, (and) we encourage our members’ companies to drive energy efficiency to optimal levels with net-zero buildings as a top measure of long-term success.” The global real estate association calls on governments around the world to incentivise building owners, investors and occupiers who proactively reduce their carbon footprints. More →

Tech and media companies continue to reshape the world’s cities

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google-doodleTech and media companies continue to shape the world’s cities and local property markets according to a recent report from BNP Paribas. While this is a global phenomenon, some of the most dramatic developments will take place in London, not least a shift of tech firms in the city away from their heartland towards Kings Cross following Google’s $1bn purchase of 2.4 acres of land within a major new development in the area. The new development may become a hothouse for technology companies in spite of the UK Government’s focus on promoting Tech City and surrounding areas in East London.  More →

Whatever the office of the future is, it should be there to serve people

Whatever the office of the future is, it should be there to serve people

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Larkin BuildingFuturology is notoriously a mug’s game. Especially when it comes to making predictions about technology. Just ask Ken Olson, the founder of DEC who in 1977 pronounced that ‘there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home’. Or Bill Gates himself who once claimed that Microsoft ‘will never make a 32 bit operating system’. But that shouldn’t make us blind to those predictions that we know will largely come true, not least those based on what we know is happening in the present. This is typified by research carried out by Cass Business School and Henley Business School and presented in a book called Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work. It found that two-thirds of the 360 managers it surveyed believe that there would be a revolution in working practices over the coming decade. Ninety per cent said that staff were more productive when empowered to decide when and where and how to work.

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Video: The 21st Century Office – how the BBC got it all wrong in 1969

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Two days ago we published a strikingly prescient report from Walter Cronkite dating from 1967 about how the world of work would look in the 21st century. Two years later the BBC was to get things hopelessly wrong, not only with its tired and misguided wannabe existentialism, but also with its vision of a future which was clearly just a slightly mechanised plasticky version of the present. That’s often the problem with futurology. It tells you more about the time in which people are making their predictions than any real vision of what is to come.

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